Published Apr 20, 2016It takes less than a minute into Outer Heaven to know that Greys have ventured into new and innovative territory on their second studio album.
When "Cruelty" opens with its simple, plodding quarter notes on a single electric guitar, it would be in character for the Toronto punks to suddenly careen into harsh noise, banging out a rip-roaring amalgam of shouted melodies, crashing instruments and guitar feedback. They don't, though — well, not yet — and the strikingly dulcet opener sets the tone for a sound that's still distinctly Greys, but more multi-dimensional than in the past.
Of course, they still do punk well. "No Star" builds and feeds off suspense between frantic, driving choruses, and the upbeat, toe-tapping verses in "If It's All the Same to You" give way to monstrously huge, riff-heavy refrains. The noise-pop jam "Blown Out," meanwhile, carves a catchy hook into layers of fuzz. Throughout, Shehzaad Jiwani's sharp-witted lyrics broach topical subjects like racism in the wake of terrorism ("No Star"), mental illness in a relationship ("Blown Out") and the effects of product marketing ("In for a Penny"), a stylistic shift from his mostly personal prior work.
Here, Greys teeter precariously between melody and dissonance, sometimes intertwining, as on the intoxicatingly eerie "Sorcerer," and other times contrasting, as on "Complaint Rock," where an assault of distortion eventually drowns in a sea of watery reverb. It's only once you've been lured into a false sense of security during those slow, entrancing sections that Greys will jolt you alert again. Outer Heaven is consistently enjoyable, but never too comfortable. (Buzz)